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Six Ways To Write Better Copy

While there is no one way to write the perfect headline or the paragraph guaranteed to woo the reader into taking action, here are some suggestions that, when taken together, may make your copy more effective.

Benefits, not features

Focus on Benefits, Not Features.

The first rule is a fairly basic one: People buy based on benefits, not on features. This is admittedly a basic point of copywriting, yet it is one of the most common mistakes you will come across when reading marketing copy.

Is your take on the benefits of your product or service consistent with that of your customers? How about the relative importance of each benefit? To answer that question, make a list of the top five benefits and then survey your customers, or ask your sales force to inquire casually when interacting with customers.

Determine the reasons customers actually buy from you. Emphasize these motivators in your copy to create a compelling story around your product or service.

Create Images

Use Copy To Create Images.

When describing your product or service, try to do so in a way that creates strong visuals in the mind of the reader. By creating a visual, you leave an imprint that will linger beyond the time the customer actually spends reading your marketing piece.

What creates strong visuals? Try using anecdotes of the positive impact of your product or service, copy that speaks emotionally to the challenge or problem being solved and testimonials. One aspect of each of these is that the message tends to be more specific, rather than general or vague.

Specific

Be Specific.

There is no doubt about it: Specifics power your benefits. Your copy will be much stronger if you can identify ways to replace general claims or descriptions with more specific descriptions. Specificity makes copy compelling. There are three techniques that will help your copy be more specific. They are:

  • Use specific nouns
  • Use specific verbs or gerunds (a gerund is a noun formed from a verb, ending in -ing)
  • Avoid the passive voice (The dog was bitten by a flea... vs. The flea bit the dog...)

As an example of how much more powerful specific language with an active voice can be in creating a lasting visual, consider these two phrases:

The dog was sitting in the car by its owner.

Compare that to:

A yellow retriever, in that clumsy stage between puppy and adult, sat in the passenger seat of the blue 1967 Corvette convertible, looking as proud as the teenager sitting beside him who had painstakingly restored the automotive classic.

Of course, the second version creates a visual image that is stronger and more lasting.

Offer, Action, Urgency

Make a Strong Offer, Define a Clear Action And Create Urgency.

When these concepts - offer, action and urgency - work hand-in-hand, they can have a tremendous impact on the results of your piece. Think of them in this way:

  • Offer: The impetus or stimulus to the action you want the reader take
  • Action: The one thing you want the reader to do to take the next step in your sales process
  • Urgency: Why it is important that the reader should take the action now, rather than putting it off

Create urgency with a strong offer to take a clearly-defined action. If your copy does this, it will be far more powerful and compelling. As you apply this concept to your copy, remember that there are certain words that are proven to drive results. These words are:

  • Discovery, Easy, Free, Guarantee, Health, Love, Money, New, Proven, Results, Safety, Save, You

Headlines

Keys to a Better Headline.

The best headlines speak to the reader, clearly communicating the benefits of your product or service. They are not about you. As you evaluate your piece's headlines, consider these rules of thumb.

  • Strong. Does the headline conjure up a visual? Does it evoke an emotional response?
  • Simple and straightforward. You have a few seconds to grab the reader. Will they continue reading or throw your piece away?
  • Specific. Use a specific number rather than a generalized one. For example, 'six ways' beats 'many ways' every time. 83% is far better than 80% (as an aside, odd numbers have been proven to draw better than even numbers; they seem more specific, and therefore credible).
  • Absolute. Look for ways to communicate your headline in absolute, rather than relative, terms. 'Eliminate' is far more compelling than 'decrease'.
  • Deadline driven. Providing a deadline is a proven way to create the urgency required to get readers to take action.

Copy

Copy to Keep Them Reading.

Keep both your first sentence and your first paragraph as brief as possible. Keep the entire first paragraph at three lines or less. You are much more likely to engage the reader and have him or her continue reading the rest of your piece.

While you are at it, make your copy to appear more inviting by limiting all paragraphs to no more than seven lines. Long paragraphs look hard to read and time-consuming. Finally, mix it up a little by making sure that your paragraphs are not all the same length. Paragraphs of varying length create visual variety. The more interesting your piece looks, the more likely it will be read.

Copy Examples. We looked on the web for blogs pointing to examples of good copywriting, and found a few that posted requests from readers for websites that specifically featured great copy. Here are some examples of what readers came up with.

daringfireball.net
dogbark.com
methodhome.com
www.ambientdevices.com
www.bananaguard.com
www.cornerhost.com
www.dept3.com
www.eleveninc.com
www.firebox.com
www.kerrsmithdesign.com
www.metadesign.com
www.miniusa.com
www.panic.com
www.samatamason.com
www.pjrvs.com

           


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